Penner sounds alarm as BC faces increasing risks to electricity reliability

January 9th, 2024

VANCOUVER, BC – The Chair of the Energy Futures Initiative is calling for a swift response based on new information showing British Columbia emerging as an ‘at-risk area’ for energy as soon as 2026, after a year in which BC Hydro imported record amounts of electricity to help keep the lights on.

Barry Penner, who was appointed Chair for the Energy Futures Initiative last month, is pointing to the latest annual forecast published by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) stating that for British Columbia “energy risks increase in 2026 as forecasted demand increases and natural-gas-fired generation retires.” NERC did not identify such a risk for British Columbia in their report last year.

"This report is highly concerning,” said Penner. “If our energy system ceases to be reliable, we could find ourselves facing an energy crisis — one that would have a significant impact on BC residents and businesses alike.”

The independent report comes amidst a recent decision from the BC Utilities Commission (BCUC) to reject a $327 million proposal that would have increased natural gas capacity in the Okanagan. BCUC pointed in part to the government’s CleanBC policy for their decision, which calls for electricity to replace natural gas for heating.

“We currently don’t have enough domestic power generation to meet the needs of today, even before additional electrification in the future,” continued Penner. “Reliance on imported energy from jurisdictions dealing with their own challenges could put British Columbians at risk of electricity shortages and higher user costs."

Penner has previously drawn attention to British Columbia’s status as a net importer of electricity. BC Hydro has acknowledged importing a record amount of electricity in 2023, representing at least 20% of total needs and nearly twice the projected output of the still unfinished Site C dam in northeast BC.

“We know Site C alone won’t meet our province’s growing energy needs,” concluded Penner. “Further expanding domestic energy production and lessening our reliance on out-of-province sources will allow us to ensure an affordable and reliable system for years to come.”

As a part of the Energy Futures Initiative, Penner intends to release further information on the state of energy in British Columbia later in January.


Media Contact
Taylor Verrall
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Barry Penner, KC

Barry Penner served as BC’s Minister of Environment, Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Attorney General during his four terms as a MLA. Penner represented Chilliwack in the BC Legislature from 1996 to 2012. During this time, he also served as both President and Vice President for the Pacific Northwest Economic Region (PNWER) and chaired a number of Legislative Committees. As Minister of Environment, Penner introduced BC’s first climate action plan which included North America’s first revenue-neutral carbon tax.

Penner was named Chair for the Energy Futures Initiative in December 2023.

Energy Futures Initiative

The Energy Futures Initiative is a Resource Works-led project that will bring a fresh perspective to discussions surrounding the future of energy in British Columbia.

Energy Futures will explore some of the greatest challenges facing British Columbia’s energy security, affordability and independence, answering the big questions on how we meet BC’s growing energy demand while protecting our environment, not just today but for the coming decades and century ahead.

Resource Works

Resource Works is a public-interest advocacy and communications not-for-profit organization based in Vancouver, British Columbia. Their mission is to reignite the promise of Canada's economic future by leading respectful, inclusive and fact-based dialogue on natural resource development.

Resource Works helps show how resources have "worked" for citizens in the past and how they can continue to do so in a new era defined by environmental responsibility and reconciliation. We communicate the importance of resource sectors to personal well-being and opportunity, demonstrating how responsible development creates jobs and incomes, both directly and indirectly, while maintaining a clean and healthy environment.

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